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Old 01-21-2013, 02:59 PM   #1
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Default On the necessity of boiling starters

Why exactly do we boil starters? We don't need to extract hops bitterness. We don't need to boil off DMS. The only reason is sanitation, but what exactly is in DME that is unsanitary?

I was feeling lazy this weekend and instead of boiling my starter, then waiting an hour for it to cool down, I just sanitized a container, poured in a 10% DME solution with tap water, and shook it up and pitched my yeast. My yeast starter took off just fine and my beer is now fermenting normally. And it was about 99% easier. I could have used distilled water, if I felt like it.

Any other slackers out there that don't boil their starters? I think I am going to stop.

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Old 01-21-2013, 03:04 PM   #2
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Its for sterilization. A 10-15 min boil will kill almost anything that may be in the water, in the DME, etc... You run the risk of having a contaminated starter. Its up to you to accept if its an acceptable risk.

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Old 01-21-2013, 03:04 PM   #3
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For me , I boil mainly to sanitize the container itself. Basically, instead of sanitizing with star-san or what not I boil the starter in an erlenmeier for about 15-20 min , cool it, then pitch the yeast.

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Old 01-21-2013, 03:08 PM   #4
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It's just one more gaurentee of infection control. Most of us who make starters with dme, don't have have 1/2 cup increments of dme in presumably sterile individually sealed packages, that we could just dump into water and shake. Instead we have 1-10 pound plastic baggies of it, probably sitting in a box with other plastic baggies of ingredients like corn sugar and lactose. Once you open a pack and stick your grubby little hands in it, or a spoon or a measuring cup or whatever the first time, (and I've done it all, including grabbing some by the hand to round out the amount on my scale,) it's not going to be as "pristine" as it was when it came from the packager. So I for me....I know I'm doing something right in insuring that my starter medium is as sterile (yes it's boiled so it's sterile, not MERELY sanitized.)

SO if that's not really important to you, then have fun...it's your starter and ultimately your beer. *shrug*

Also have you ever actually tried to integrate dme into COLD water? I haven't. But some powders mix better or only in hot water. I just stumbled upon a British version of ovalteen that it turned out you had to dissolve the powder FIRST in some boiling water or milk before cooling it and dilluting it to the amount you wanted to drink...or drink it hot. Trying it with cold milk just left an inch of powder on the surface that even 5 minutes of stirring would NOT mix......

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Old 01-21-2013, 03:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
Why exactly do we boil starters? We don't need to extract hops bitterness. We don't need to boil off DMS. The only reason is sanitation, but what exactly is in DME that is unsanitary?

I was feeling lazy this weekend and instead of boiling my starter, then waiting an hour for it to cool down, I just sanitized a container, poured in a 10% DME solution with tap water, and shook it up and pitched my yeast. My yeast starter took off just fine and my beer is now fermenting normally. And it was about 99% easier. I could have used distilled water, if I felt like it.

Any other slackers out there that don't boil their starters? I think I am going to stop.
I've done it both ways, boil and not boiling. Now when I make starters I start the timer when the temp reaches 160F, turn the stove down a bit, and remove it after 10 minutes. Anything higher than 160F is as almost as effective as boiling and it takes less time to cool it (High Temperature, Short Time pasteurization is 161F for 15-20 seconds and is designed to achieve a five-log reduction, killing 99.999% of the number of viable micro-organisms). I mix the DME while the water is cold, it's easier to handle without the steam and moist air over the pot. If you use LME, it's easier to mix once the water warms up a bit.
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:52 PM   #6
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I do a quick 1min boil. Since it's potable water I figure any bacteria in it aren't anything too nasty. Even if they were nasty, 60s of rolling boil is enough to kill crytosporidia and giardia. I'd atleast heat it up to drive off any chlorine in the water.

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Old 01-21-2013, 05:37 PM   #7
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A 60" boil sounds like a great balance between sterilization and simplicity. I'm totally doing this next time.

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Old 01-21-2013, 07:38 PM   #8
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The only catch with the 60s boil is I don't think you can speed chill it. This methodology comes from backpacking and drinking from water of unknown quality so unaided cooling is used. I imagine the heating up and cool down phases are what make this viable but I don't have anything to back that up. It could just as easily be wrong.
There are also a few rapid treatment methods such as the Steri=Pen whch uses a germicidal UV lamp to corrupt the DNA of bacteria preventing them from reproducing. It can sterilize up to 1L of water in 90s, no heating or cooling involved.

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Old 01-22-2013, 01:58 AM   #9
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it takes and hour for it to cool?

Holly crap...

I put the pan in a sink with cold water and its ready in a couple minutes.

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Old 01-22-2013, 02:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WilliamShakesbeer View Post
For me , I boil mainly to sanitize the container itself. Basically, instead of sanitizing with star-san or what not I boil the starter in an erlenmeier for about 15-20 min , cool it, then pitch the yeast.
Yes, me too. I don't sanitize my flask or stir bar, just put DME and water in it and put it on the stove with the stir bar in it. When it starts boiling, I let it go for a minute or two, then put it in a pan of ice water (where it takes 5 MINUTES to cool- not an hour!) and then pitch my yeast and cover with sanitized foil.

The whole process takes about 10 minutes total.
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